Tuesday, April 17, 2012

JUICEBLENDER - Pundits Pick Political Winners: O'Malley, Mizeur, Raskin, Hucker // Plus, Harford Exec for 2014 Gov?

Here's a random blend of political tidbits from the current news cycle, starting with an analysis of potential fallout from Maryland's current budget standoff:

JUICE #1: SENATE PREZ MIKE MILLER HARMS DEMOCRATIC BRAND - The Baltimore Sun's Annie Linskey recently published a lengthy write-up of the finger-pointing in the aftermath of Maryland's stalled budget negotiations. She printed speculation about the potential harm that a protracted budget battle could have on the reputations of political leaders, but most of the blame still seems to be hovering over Senate President Mike Miller. It seems clear that he is a poor brand-manager for the modern Democratic Party, and his ward boss political tactics are sullying the efforts of others. See an excerpt from The Sun's piece below:

BALTIMORE SUN: Instead of the confetti, balloons and good will that typically mark the end of the General Assembly's 90-day session, the legislature adjourned Monday with a toxic mixture of anger and disbelief that the Democratic-controlled body gridlocked and was forced to enact a fallback budget that cuts deeply into Democratic spending priorities.

The blame game started immediately. One top Democrat called for Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr. to step aside. Political pundits — and the Republican Party — pointed fingers at Gov. Martin O'Malley, saying he's been too busy preparing a presidential run and has neglected his duties in Annapolis....

But the extent to which last week's failure dogs them will depend on whether leaders craft a budgetary solution — and how long that takes, political observers say. Should it be fixed quickly, voters are likely to forget....

At least part of the breakdown in cross-chamber negotiations was over legislation to allow a sixth casino site in Maryland and legalize table games. Miller says he thought the House would take up the gambling expansion bill in addition to the budget. Busch, a longtime casino opponent, says that the gambling bill was not part of the budget package....

The last-minute budget breakdown has overshadowed O'Malley's otherwise successful session. He would have preferred to spend last week on a victory lap, talking about the passage of same-sex marriage and several environmental priorities that had stalled last year.... The governor has accepted a share of the blame. He has also pointed at Miller.... "Seemingly, the Senate was not capable of passing the compromise budget without also passing gambling...."

One senator — the youngest in the chamber — wrote in an e-mail to constituents that he was "embarrassed" by the budget that passed with his support. "We should have asked more questions," wrote Baltimore senator Bill Ferguson, a Democrat. "We should have demanded a transparent process."

Nonetheless, criticism directed at Miller filled editorial pages of many of the state's newspapers. And, though Miller is hardly a household name, there is some evidence the public is paying attention. Last week during O'Malley's WTOP appearance, one caller asked the governor if it was time for Miller to retire....

FORTY-ONE YEARS OF MIKE MILLER - Maryland Juice thinks it is time for Senate President Mike Miller to step aside and let others have a go at the top spot in the Senate. Why is everyone so scared to state the obvious? Mike Miller has been a professional politician for forty-one years. Let me repeat -- FORTY-ONE YEARS. Is he the best the Democratic Party has to offer today

JUICE #2: O'MALLEY 2016 WHITE HOUSE EFFORT PROCEEDS - Even with Senate President Mike Miller's hijacking of the budget process, speculation about Gov. Martin O'Malley's 2016 White House viability continues to percolate. The Washington Post's John Wagner today reported:
WASHINGTON POST: Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) has been booked for a private press briefing Friday in Washington as “a hot prospect” for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination.

“Governor O’Malley may dismiss talk of 2016 as ‘premature,’ but when has that stopped us?” asks an invitation to the monthly gathering hosted by Bill Schneider, the political analyst and longtime CNN contributor.

In Annapolis, O’Malley and legislative leaders are trying to find a way to clean up the messy end to the 90-day legislative session....

The invitation for Friday’s gathering suggests that it will focus on other issues and highlights O’Malley’s role as chairman of the Democratic Governors Association.

JUICE #3: HEATHER MIZEUR FOR ? - Center Maryland blogger Josh Kurtz picked Delegate Heather Mizeur out of this year's Annapolis crowd and called her a "superstar." Notably, Maryland Juice has pondered the direction of Ms. Mizeur's career in a series of posts and a Where's Waldo cartoon. At the close of the legislative session, Kurtz's article once again raises the question -- what's next for Heather Mizeur? We still assume she's in it for a Comptroller's bid. See an excerpt from Kurtz's column below:
CENTER MARYLAND: Last fall, Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz was set to headline a rally of Maryland Democrats in Silver Spring. Dozens of elected officials, from Gov. Martin O’Malley on down, were scheduled to attend. But it was state Del. Heather Mizeur (D) who was invited to introduce Wasserman Schultz to the crowd.

It seemed like a no-brainer: Mizeur is the Democratic National Committeewoman for Maryland, and the gathering at Montgomery Blair High School was in her legislative district.

But Mizeur declined the honor. In fact, she told event organizers that she wouldn’t be attending at all – she had long before committed to speak that night to a group in Ocean City. And that tells you an awful lot about Heather Mizeur.

Now Mizeur may be contemplating something even more audacious: running for governor or some other high office in 2014. She has the chops – and achievements – to do it.... So it isn’t too soon to ask: What’s next for Heather Mizeur?
NOTE: You can come and Talk Politics with Maryland Juice on Tuesday, April 24th @ 7:30 PM in Rockville, Maryland at a Montgomery County Young Democrats event. I'll be participating in a discussion of Maryland politics, along with Center Maryland writer Josh Kurtz, WTOP radio's Kate Ryan, and former CNN producer Evan Glass. Please join us!

JUICE #4: THE GAZETTE'S "WINNERS" = SEN. RASKIN & DEL. HUCKER - The Gazette released its list of political winners and losers coming out of this year's legislative session. They consulted a secret panel of Annapolis to devise a list of key politicos this year. From Montgomery County, Del. Heather Mizeur's colleagues Sen. Jamie Raskin and Del. Tom Hucker topped The Gazette's list. Notably, Sen. Raskin is presumed to be exploring a run for Attorney General in 2014. His accolades for defending marriage equality, promoting criminal justice reform, and fostering government transparency hint at the type of campaign that might emerge in what is typically a low-profile Democratic Primary race. Meanwhile, Del. Hucker's high-profile battle to ban arsenic from chicken feed also vaulted him into The Gazette's attention:
THE GAZETTE - WINNERS Sen. Jamie Raskin (D-Dist. 20) of Takoma Park — For a second year in a row, the constitutional law professor gave an impassioned defense of same-sex marriage on the Senate floor. The bill passed both chambers this time and was signed by the governor midsession. He was also the lead sponsor, with Del. Luke Clippinger (D-Dist. 46) of Baltimore in the House, on legislation that reduced the penalty for being caught with small quantities of marijuana and a bill requiring that ethics disclosure forms filed by lawmakers be posted online. Raskin also took the lead on the state’s ratification of the 17th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, codifying the direct election of Maryland’s U.S. senators....

Del. Tom Hucker (D-Dist. 20) of Silver Spring — Two of the Montgomery County lawmaker’s key initiatives were passed in the final days — and even minutes — of the session. On Saturday, Maryland became the first state in the nation to ban arsenic additives in chicken feed, a move intended to keep the carcinogen — found in some drugs given to chickens — out of both the food supply and the watershed. On Monday, minutes before adjournment, the Senate approved a bill requiring local jurisdictions to tighten stormwater management regulations.

JUICE #5: HARFORD COUNTY EXEC ANNOUNCES BID FOR 2014 GOV - GOP political blogger Joe Steffen (aka "The Prince of Darkness") recently shamed a campaign aide for Harford County Executive David Craig. In a scathing blog post, Steffen writes about a fundraiser he attended with several Republican politicos. Apparently without permission, an overly-eager campaign aide divulged that Harford's Exec. David Craig would be seeking the GOP gubernatorial nomination in 2014. Steffen decided to create an amusing teachable moment for Maryland politicos by divulging the information and shaming the source:
PRINCE OF DARKNESS: Harford County Executive David Craig Announces He’s Running for Governor in 2014! Well, no, not exactly. However, you may consider this to be David Craig’s “Official Announcement.” No need for a media rollout, a statewide tour or anything else that comes with a statewide campaign announcement. For, you see, Craig’s candidacy was announced to a group of folks at a gathering I attended following GOP US Senate candidate Dan Bongino’s April 2nd fundraiser....

Young Mister Wolf, who touts himself as the Political Director for the Friends of David Craig Campaign was certainly making his presence known that night…

After some small talk exchanged between Wolf and my tablemates, Wolf started boasting – for lack of a better word – about his working for David Craig. Questions that followed included, “Do you work in Craig’s administration or on the campaign side?” Without hesitation, Wolf stated that he worked for Craig’s campaign.

In rapid fire follow-up, one of my two fellow writers who was in attendance asked Wolf what Craig was running for. Wolf didn’t immediately answer. So, then came the question, “Governor? Is David Craig running for Governor?” Flashing a defecate devouring grin and taking another swig of beer, Wolf replied, “Absolutely.”

I’m assuming that Wolf quickly realized his mistake, because he damned near immediately told the known writers something along the lines of, “That’s off the record, alright?  I value my job…”

Apparently, Wolf didn’t realize that I was also a writer.... Dealing with young, drunken, loudmouth politicos just ain’t my style – especially when said loudmouth is desperately trying to impress everyone with how cool he is by flashing his unwarranted “know it all” factor.

What this tells me about the David Craig campaign is that THAT boat simply isn’t ready to float.... The timing of said announcement is up to the candidate – not a loud mouthed boozer....

Consider this an abject lesson for Political Staff. You never know who might be listening to you when you’ve had too much to drink and are feeling far more full of yourself than you deserve to feel...

PS - INTERNET PRIVACY BECOMES A KEY ISSUE - Notably, The Gazette also included YOU in their winner's list this year. Indeed, they highlighted "social media users" among those that gained from this year's legislative session, due to a social media privacy law that they passed. It is good to see the state legislature moving to stop "Big Brother" policies, since Montgomery County continues to have problems and since Congress seems to be moving in the opposite direction (Note: please help stop Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger's Internet snooping bill CISPA). See an excerpt from The Gazette's winners & losers list below:
THE GAZETTE - Social media users — Pending a signature from Gov. Martin O’Malley, Maryland will become the first state to ban employers from asking for social media passwords of job applicants and workers to protect their privacy. The ACLU took up the issue after Robert Collins, a then-Division of Correction officer, was required to give up his Facebook password during a recertification interview. Collins said he had felt compelled to surrender the password to the investigator, who then logged on to his account and read his private messages.

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